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invulnerable machine was failing. She screamed.

After a few moments, the pain faded, withdrew. The systems fell silent. The machine could not live without its heart. Without its heart, the beat slowed. Stilled.

She searched for her connection to the machine. She could not sense it at all. But she could not continue without it; it was impossible. She and the machine were one.

The machine was so beautiful, so elegant. It had its needs, and she fulfilled them. Without its needs, what would she do? Without the machine, what was she?

She was choking, suffocating. She spasmed with an odd expulsion of air, and then she could breathe, differently than she had before, executing a strange, laborious movement.

She remembered now a time, long ago, when she had been separated from the machine. The machine had been destroyed, and they had removed her from its corpse, had joined her to another machine.

That must be what they intended. Yet she had sensed nothing wrong with the machine, no reason for them to take her from it.

Still, she reassured herself that she and the machine would soon be one. Only in fulfilling the needs of the machine, only in carrying out the instructions of the Eye did her life have meaning. Only when she was whole could she know the thrill of battle, the ecstasy of victory. Restoring her must be their plan, for what other goal could they have?



December 2260



Chapter 9



Through the small window of the single-occupant trading vessel, Galen watched as Babylon 5 drew closer. He had left his mage ship in a backwater, taken a transport to the next system, and rented the trading vessel there. Though his visit to the station would be short, he wanted to minimize any chance that the Shadows would discover his identity before he desired
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